September 8, 2023
Written by Ryan Sutherland, Ministry Insurance Specialist
The story of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, is one of the most taught in Sunday Schools and children’s ministries. Many of us even remember seeing Donny Osmond portraying Joseph and singing about the beautiful “coat of many colors” in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. When we think of the story of Joseph, we tend to focus on his father’s gift, his brother’s terrible betrayal, Joseph’s moral fortitude in fleeing from the temptations of Potiphar’s wife, and the incredibly beautiful reconciliation towards his brothers and reunion with his father.
Of course, these are all great aspects of the story to focus on—and I don’t want to undermine the importance of any of these details. However, what has captured my attention as of late (as a pastor-theologian insurance agent!) is the wonderful and terrifying tension of Joseph’s trust in God’s sovereign, well-thought-out plan (which often included hardship) pulling against Joseph’s stewardship of Godly wisdom through his own well-thought-out planning.
We are living in a day and age of tremendous uncertainty. Like Joseph in Egypt, the physical world is incredibly unpredictable. If we were to describe the effects of wildfires and catastrophic storms here in the U.S., you might think we were reading the story of Sodom and Gomorrah or something from the early chapters of Exodus when God sent plagues on Egypt. We have become used to seeing natural disasters on our social media news feeds. Even with all the great technological advancements that have made our lives easier and safer, we still have not discovered a way to control the weather.
The tension I highlighted earlier that Joseph lived with is the same tension we live with today: God is still sovereign and has a wonderfully thought-out-plan for our lives and our ministries.
It often surprises me how, at an organizational level of our ministries, we often struggle to do the very thing that is at the center of our discipleship programs and Sunday morning sermons: TRUST GOD! Our church business decisions are often more driven by fear than faith.
Joseph displayed an amazing trust for his heavenly father when times were bleak. When he was left for dead, lying in a pit, wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and even and especially when God told him that a famine was going to hit the entire known world.
Joseph’s reliance on God didn’t mean he just sat on his haunches wringing his hands. He meticulously planned based on the information he had available to him and the best practices of his day. He rationed out food. He stored up grain. He prepared in advance for what he believed was going to happen so that he could be a blessing to others in need when the famine came.
As an insurance agent, I’ve observed the world change quite drastically over the last decade. In just the last three years, a global pandemic claimed the lives of more people than we can count (some sources report 1.8 million and others over 3 million) and pretty much shut down the world for an entire year; 100-mile-an-hour winds caused a small fire to rip through Boulder County Colorado burning over 1000 homes and causing billions in damage and displacing hundreds of families; and (at the time of this article) just last week an entire town in Hawaii (and much of the whole island) burned to the ground.
All of us have witnessed these and many other events, and yet we are still approaching the business of ministry the same we always have. We are surprised and upset when our insurance carrier charges higher premiums. We think the cost should stay the same year after year despite what we see on the news. We strip coverages to try and save premium on our policies.
It’s only a matter of time before your ministry experiences a loss. Joseph teaches us that wise planning includes allocating resources for a rainy-day fund. Having good insurance is part of good planning – so review your policies and make sure you have adequate coverage when disaster strikes – not just so you can cover your own losses, but so you can also be generous to your neighbors whom God has called you to love and serve.
It’s a tricky tension to live in: trusting in God’s sovereign plan (even when it’s hard) and coming up with our own wise plans to ensure the church survives and thrives. Thankfully, no matter how well we plan, our hope is in the Lord of Creation, who is redeeming even in catastrophic weather and making all things new.
Let's take a stroll down memory lane to 1938 when General Electric made a groundbreaking move by introducing fluorescent tubes to the world. Even though the technology had been brewing since the late 1880s, it took time and the genius of several inventors to make it shine as a practical product.
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